Liturgy – The Ancient Universal Translator

In the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Aliens initiate communication with Earthlings using a series of harmonic tones.  In real life, the Voyager spacecraft is traveling out of our Solar System with a golden record on-board that contains the sounds of Nature from Earth and a graphical representation of Human Beings, our Solar System and the element Hydrogen inscribed on it.  It is hoped that any aliens who encounter it will be able to translate its meaning and possibly establish contact with us.

First encounters are fraught with hazards. Misunderstandings can cause hurt feelings at the least and interstellar war at the worst. This was highlighted in several science fiction stories. In the Star Trek television series most interspecies communication difficulties were avoided by the invention of the Universal Translator.

Communication is a problem here on our own small oasis we call Earth. The United Nations has leagues of employees whose job it is to translate the different languages. In addition to different languages there is the whole other matter of cultural norms. Normal behavior in one culture is shocking to another and the more alien a culture is the greater the potential for misunderstanding. A super advanced alien race from outer space may find our ways repulsive and we may find their ways incomprehensible.

But what would happen if we encountered the greatest intelligence in the entire universe. How would we interact? What if this intelligence knew humanity intimately? Moreover what if humanity owed everything we have and everything we are to the primeval efforts of this intellect? How should we communicate so as to avoid an apocalyptic disaster?

Of course I am speaking not about some super alien race but of someone infinitely greater, I am speaking about God!

If you are invited to an audience with the President of the United States, a King or the Pope, there are protocols to be observed in how we address them. Moreover there are specific guides to how you are to act if your visit is one of mutual aid or if your visit is a plea for help. Often a third party facilitates the encounter to ensure that all decorum is observed so the meeting goes smoothly. Who tells us how to meet and talk to God?

The answer is God, in the person of Jesus Christ.

At the Last Supper, Jesus first established the Eucharist as His means of remaining with us until He comes again. After His death and resurrection the Apostles and the first Christians continued to meet and re-present the Last Supper as their means of worship. That re-presentation is known as the Mass.

The Mass is our guide as to how we should communicate with God at the highest level possible. We enter into God’s presence at the Mass and as it proceeds we are guided as to how we should present ourselves and how we should respond. God reaches through time and space and ensures that our communication with Him is clear and open. If it does not seem like that to us the problem is on our end of the line.

Within the Mass we even recite the Our Father – the prayer Jesus taught the Disciples when they asked Him to teach them how to pray. So we have a lesson within a lesson, a guide within a guide. The Our Father clearly tells us that God is Our Father and also tells us how He expects us to live our life.

We are to adore Him – Hallowed be thy name

We are to Trust Him – Give us our daily bread.

We are to forgive as we beg Him to forgive us.

The Liturgy of the Mass is our universal translator as we seek to keep open the lines of communication with God. He is always on the other end. There is never a disconnection unless we cause it. The Liturgy instructs us as it also enfolds our whole being using all our senses into the most intimate contact two beings can experience.

At the end of our time here on Earth, Viaticum is given to us prior to our last breath to nourish our soul on its journey. Reconciliation is offered to make us presentable before our most important audience. Finally it is within the Liturgy that we are beamed up on our final journey at the end of our earthly lives during a Funeral Mass.

The Liturgy then is not some stilted formalized ceremony but a highly precise means of sharing our thoughts, needs, fears and hopes. It is also God’s means of giving to us all that we need to flourish and live life to the fullest.

Now that is what I call communication!

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